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Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from the cells that produce the body's melanin. Early symptoms include the development and growth of irregular moles on the body. Melanoma can also spread to other areas of the body, resulting in a less-visible condition commonly referred to as "hidden melanoma." Since hidden melanoma is found in areas such as the eyes or the scalp, it is usually detected when it begins exhibiting the symptoms of advanced melanoma. Regarded as a stage 4 cancer, advanced melanoma can lead to more serious symptoms, such as increased tumor growth, itching and pain—bleeding, and oozing can also occur.
Individuals with melanoma exhibit symptoms associated with melanin, the skin's pigmentation agent. The condition results in asymmetrically-shaped, mole-like dark patches on the skin. These patches can have uneven coloring, as well as irregular borders. They tend to measure 1/4 inch (about 6 mm) in diameter and can grow over time.
It is also possible that patients develop melanoma in areas of the body that are not easily visible. This hidden melanoma most commonly develops in the nail bed, the eyelid, the eye, and the scalp. The melanoma might also be found in the mucosal tissue lining the nose, throat, anus, and vagina. Since hidden melanoma is not easily spotted, the condition is usually detected when the symptoms of advanced melanoma surface.
With advanced melanoma, the tumor growth leads to the development of worse symptoms. The moles might become lumpy or scaly in texture. Further growth can increase pressure in the tumor, causing it to harden. The tumors will continue to further differentiate themselves from regular moles in this manner as the condition worsens.
The tumors will eventually cause physical discomfort, such as itching or pain. More severe cases of advanced melanoma might exhibit bleeding in the affected areas. It is also possible that the moles will begin to ooze a pus-like substance. The pigment of the mole can spread to the surrounding skin, creating dark, reddish blotches with uneven coloring.
If an individual experiences the symptoms of advanced melanoma, there is very little chance that he can be cured. The skin cancer can be put into remission for a significant amount of time, however. Although any form of treatment cannot eliminate the disease, techniques such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been known to control the symptoms of advanced melanoma to a manageable degree. As with any treatment, it is best for patients to consult a specialist regarding the best option.